Black Lawyers & Juju’s Political Malnourishment
“WE WERE losing cases with Black lawyers failing to submit a simple thing as one page. And then we must use the same services [and] lose cases so that we can be projected as the most disorganised organisation with no direction? To hell with all of you."
Who said these words? Kaizer Matanzima? No. Lucas Mangope? No. Dr Mangosuthu Buthelezi? No. Mmusi Maimane? No.
You would be forgiven if you thought these words belonged to a reactionary Black person, or those the Black Consciousness Movement used to refer to as non-white. The type of Black person that aspires to be white but whose skin colour make realisation of that aspiration impossible.
Back to the words. They were said this past Thursday (29 October 2020) by the leader of the EFF, Julius Malema, to EFF members after his court appearance in Randburg. To rub the anti-black message in, he added that he would be represented by white lawyers "today, tomorrow and anytime we want". He made it clear that it was not the first time his "competent" white lawyer Laurence Hodes represented him. After every calculated pause that required an uncritical endorsement, the EFF members roared, "yeah!"
If these anti-black statements were uttered by somebody and an organisation that did not claim to promote access of Black professionals to opportunities, perhaps they could be understood and simply treated with the contempt they deserve.
But is it true that Black lawyers are generally incompetent and lose cases? Well, I can't convince white racists otherwise because that's what they believed for centuries. They even structurally denied Black people education and access to the legal practice over the past generations to actualise their white supremacist stereotype.
But what about Blacks who also believe Black lawyers are incompetent? This is a difficult one for ordinary Black people because racism and legal practice made them believe it was only white lawyers who could face white racist judges if you really wanted better prospects of success. They believed Black lawyers became weak-kneed as and when they faced white racist judges.
Perhaps ordinary Black folks could be forgiven in their desperation. But what about leaders of political organisations who assume a posture of Black radicalism? They can't be forgiven, for they should know better.
But there are countless Black lawyers who operated under hostile apartheid conditions, and against whom it would be an insult for a Black leader to rubbish them as incompetent. I'm talking about Dikgang Moseneke, Ismail Mohamed, Don Nkadimeng, Pius Langa, Mandisa Maya, Mokotedi Mpye, Dullar Omar, Mojanku Gumbi, Imraan Moosa, and many others.
If you were in the liberation struggle, there's no way you would have missed representation by these legal gurus. In that case, you could never dismiss them as incompetent. Consider the fact many of these Black legal gurus had taken silk.
Fast forward to today and check out if Black lawyers are as incompetent as they are made out to be by the EFF leader. Legal eagles like Marumo Moerane, Vincent Maleka, Thembeka Ngcukayitobi, Dali Mpofu and many others have done nothing less but made us proud as Black people in how seriously they take their profession.
Look at how the judiciary and justice have benefitted on the bench with the penetration of Black lawyers like Dikgang Moseneke, Mogoeng Mogoeng, Sisi Khampepe, Justine Mlambo and many others. It is beyond me just how a Black leader could dismiss Black lawyers as incompetent when reality points in the opposite direction.
This racism-induced self-hatred by Blacks of mechanically believing that whiteness is competent whereas Blackness is incompetent, is rife even in sport. Black soccer bosses would rather employ a European reject because they believe their whiteness will extract slavish respect from Black players.
Recently, I stumbled upon an EFF 2019 position, which boasted about how they reject the Black Consciousness philosophy as a political guide to their practice of politics. It is that political malnourishment caused by lack of BC that makes me unsurprised that the EFF could rubbish and dismiss Black lawyers as incompetent in a political environment where institutionalised racism remains in force.
If anything, we should learn from the anti-black statements by Black politicians that we need Black Consciousness and Biko more than ever before.